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The Best Basic Risotto Method: Technique & Formula

There are two things that make Risotto so different from any other rice or pilaf dish in the world. The first is the rice itself. Even here in the heart of a major rice-growing region with five levels of short-grain rice, we focus on only one level with only two rice types used for risotto. Superfino is the level and the two types within that level are Arborio and Canaroli. 
The second differentiator is the technique to make the best basic risotto recipe. My failproof technique follows below.
There are two different risotto styles. Here in Piedmont, we prefer a risotto mantecato or mounted. which gives you a creamy almost saucy risotto at the end. Other places in Northern Italy forego the mounting for a drier risotto. Whichever style you prefer, it is important you use the correct type of rice. And, if you follow my formula below, you will become a master risotto maker in no time. 
Risotto is a very versatile dish, even if the procedure is quite strict. While Italians often only add one element to the rice and the broth, it’s fun to elaborate and add a couple of other elements for a more complex dish. But, don’t overdo it. I prefer more complex risotto with an interesting twist -- perhaps adding an unexpected ingredient. More than two or three elements may muddle it from an Italian sensibility point-of-view. You absolutely want to be able to appreciate the uniqueness of the rice itself and the quality of the broth, which are fundamental. 
Author: Denise Pardini, Hotel Castello di Sinio

Ingredients

Basic Risotto Formula

  • ½ cup rice per person
  • 2 cups broth per every ½ cup of rice
  • 1 small onion per cup of rice, very finely and evenly diced
  • 1 small clove garlic per cup of rice
  • ½ cup of grated Parmiggiano per cup of rice (do less if you prefer less cheese)
  • 1 TBS butter per cup of rice

Instructions

  • In figuring how much rice to use, take into consideration that adding other elements like vegetables and / or meat will increase the yield considerably. Therefore, 2 cups of rice makes enough for six people. 
  • In calculating for four people, 1.5 cups is plenty. Depending on what you add, you may have leftovers. That's ok. While Italians would never agree with making any more risotto than you eat immediately, I love having some left to quickly heat in the microwave for a quick snack or easy meal.
  • Be careful about how you heat it up. Know that the texture will not be what it should be for any self-respecting Italian. But great for those of us who love leftovers! 
  • A word about broth: making stock or broth doesn't have to be a long, drawn-out process. It can be as simple as a couple of chicken breasts cooked in 8 cups or so of water with a piece of carrot and celery tossed in. A good trick is to cook the breasts or a couple of legs in a large carton of chicken broth. Even the carton broth by itself makes a wonderful risotto, especially if you are adding two or three elements to the finished risotto.

Notes

Copyright Denise Pardini 2008 - 2020, hotelcastellodisinio.com